Get to know…Jim Watson

For this week’s chosen club member we are joined by another of the long serving brigade at Arena, some may say old school, some may vintage either way it still comes back to the word of original. One of those true gents at Arena and you can always rely on Jim putting in a good turn for any Arena races; it’s never done by halves with Jim. Jim even shows in the club records under the Peacehaven parkrun section and tops the age grading record for this event. Loving the old school photo of him back in the day, so here’s another word for you Jim – retro! Now let’s dig in and get the dirt on this man.
Name: Jim Watson
1. When and why did you join Arena:
In 2000, to re-start running in a more serious way. I’m not one of the Arena originals, but I’ve been around longer than I realised. It must be a good club!
2. How long have you been running:
Since I was 11, running cross-country at school on big northern hills full of snow (that’s my memory of it anyway). Later in my teens, I found the next best thing for the track season: I ran the 1500 steeplechase for Sale Harriers.
3. Where did you grow up:
A village in Yorkshire until I was 8, then my family defected to south Manchester. The music was much better in Manchester: so an inspired decision by my parents.
4. Which three words describe you best:
Responsible, energetic, occasionally indecisive (I know that last one is cheating, but it took me ages to think of it).
5. Apart from running what else do you do with your free time:
The usual – time with family, trying to see all the films competing for Oscars, going to the theatre once a year and saying ‘we must do this more often’ on the way out, and going away in our camper van when the weather is good enough.
6. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this year:
No contest: the honour of being captain of the South Downs relay B team. I set the bar high.
7. Tell me about something you would happily do again:
If time travel is allowed, it would have to be getting married (on the same day in 2001 to the same person!).
8. What do you think about the most during the day:
Herding academics.
9. Who is your sporting hero:
Predictable running heroes – but all have been inspiring: Paula Radcliffe, Mo Farah and (way back when) Coe and Ovett.
10. What’s something that you aren’t:
11. Have you anything on your bucket list that you still want to do:
I don’t really have a list – there are the usual places I’d like to visit, but it keeps changing. I’d also really like to write a book that other people want to read. A hazard of my job is that I edit books now and again, but they sell less than a 100 copies. You will be relieved that none of them were in reach for the answer to question 18.
12. Think fast, what do you like right now:
I’m away for work, and I’ve just spent an evening talking to inspiring people from all over the world who are experts in a huge range of subjects: from ethics to tackling malaria. So I feel pretty lucky to have that opportunity.
13. What’s something or someone you miss the most from childhood:
Proper hills. It has taken me years to accept that the South Downs fit the definition. I don’t miss the clothes though – the 70s were a disaster, at least for my wardrobe.
14. Name 3 people (dead or alive) you would like to sit in a pub with:
Too much choice! I’d want to arrange a series of evenings: one with old relatives, another with old friends, and more with people I’ve never met. I’d include a night with authors such as George Orwell, Margaret Atwood and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (plus a translator). All would have interesting things to say about the state we’re in, and hopefully be able to suggest some solutions. But I might just end up feeling depressed.
15. Tell us something we don’t know about you:
I was interviewed by Jeremy Vine just before a Shetland pony. Not only that, but the pony came up to the studio in a lift.
16. Is there anything that you are afraid of:
I’m more afraid of heights than I thought. I realised when I was jumping off rocks with a group of friends into the ardeche river last summer. I hit my height limit pretty quickly.
17. What would your epitaph say:
I hope it would say ‘he made a difference’.
18. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 35, and find line 8. What does it read: 
OK. I’ve just grabbed my e-reader, and it doesn’t do anything as old fashioned as page 35. So chapter 35 will have to do. Line 8 says ‘she might not have passed through’. I haven’t got to that bit yet, so I’ve no idea what it means (from The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion).
19. If you didn’t run what other sport would you like to have done:
I’ve dabbled in amateur (and pretty poor) surfing in the past. It would have been great to have been better at it. I soon discovered that it’s a futile activity in Brighton. We have surf culture and lots of people who look like surfers but no decent surf. And Cornwall is too far away.
20. Would you prefer to go bungee jumping or sky diving or have you done either:
I’d marginally prefer being attached to something, so bungee jumping. But neither appeal (see my unexpected fear of heights).
Our biggest thanks to Jim for his Q&A’s this week and we hope that you feel that you have now got to know Jim a little better. Check back next Wednesday for another set of Q&A’s with our chosen club member.